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Northport Veteran Affairs medical center will remain open

Safe patient handling and mobility coordination at the VA hospital in Loma Linda, California.
Annie Tritt
/
NPR
Safe patient handling and mobility coordination at a VA hospital.

The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee has shot down a plan that would have closed the emergency room at Long Island's only VA hospital in Northport and relocated most services to other hospitals.

A special VA commission recommended in March that most of the services offered at the Northport VA be eliminated. The plan would have forced 100,000 veterans across Long Island to travel to other VA hospitals as far as Queens and Connecticut, or seek treatment at local hospitals.

The bipartisan Senate Veterans Affairs Committee killed the plan this week.

"We share a commitment to expanding and strengthening modern VA infrastructure in a way that upholds our obligations to America’s veterans," the committee said in a statement. "We believe the recommendations... are not reflective of that goal, and would put veterans in both rural and urban areas at a disadvantage, which is why we are announcing that this process does not have our support and will not move forward."

The proposed cuts at the Northport VA were part of a nationwide overhaul that would have closed up to 17 VA hospitals and opened more than 30 new ones.

The VA had said the cuts would better serve the changing needs of veterans despite criticism from advocacy groups like the American Legion and elected officials from both parties.

Desiree reports on the lives of military service members, veterans, and their families for WSHU as part of the American Homefront project. Born and raised in Connecticut, she now calls Long Island home.